BY RUTENDO MATANHIKE
PARLIAMENTARY Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education chairperson, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga has commended government for setting aside $200 million for procurement of sanitary ware for underprivileged women and girls across Zimbabwe.
She told NewsDay yesterday that while money being directed towards the cause could never be enough, she was happy that government had acknowledged the challenges faced by females particularly from less-privileged homes in accessing sanitary wear.
“No money can ever be enough in the provision of adequate sexual reproductive health care in the form of sanitary ware for women and girls, but for me the excitement is really about government finally acknowledging the problem women and young girls have been facing for a long time. This has been a war and I am glad has finally gotten the recognition it deserves,” she said.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga lobbied for the removal of import duty and value added tax (VAT) on sanitary ware which has proved expensive for many ordinary women with some resorting to unsafe alternative methods such as cow dung.
School going girls in rural areas are reported to be missing lessons during menstruation due to lack of proper sanitary ware.
The proportional representation legislator said the procurement process, as well engagements with the Finance ministry in finding sustainable sanitary ware, were underway.
“One of the conversations we have had with the Finance ministry is that we should not invest in buying disposable sanitary pads, but rather invest in sanitary pants for girls which have a life span of two years and also menstrual cups for women in order to promote sustainability, Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.
“We are already looking into the procurement process as we anticipate the approval of the budget at the end of November so that by the time we get into next year, distribution will be our (preoccupation). Some producers of these products have already indicated their plans in providing us with the sanitary ware we require.”
Plans are being made to distribute the products through independent channels to avoid corruption which may result in products not reaching intended beneficiaries, she revealed.
“We are thinking of not using government distribution channels to avoid cases of corruption which have been a major concern. We want the products getting to the people who really need them,” she said.
Responding to NewsDay on whether or not the hyperinflationary environment was a concern, Misihairabwi-Mushonga said early procurement of the products was important particularly considering sanitary ware was a non-perishable product.